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Inherited geochemical diversity of 3.4 Ga organic films from the Buck Reef Chert, South Africa

Abstract : Archean rocks contain crucial information about the earliest life forms on Earth, but documenting these early stages of biological evolution remains challenging. The main issue lies in the geochemical transformations experienced by Archean organic matter through its multibillion- year geological history. Here we present spatially resolved chemical investigations conducted on 3.4 Ga organic films from the Buck Reef Chert, South Africa which indicate that they possess significantly different chemical compositions. Since these organic films all underwent the same post-depositional geological history, this geochemical diversity is most likely inherited, reflecting original chemical differences which were not completely obliterated by subsequent burial-induced degradation processes. These results demonstrate that early Archean organic films carry chemical information directly related to their original molecular compositions. This paves the way for the reconstruction of the initial chemical nature of organic microfossils found in ancient rocks, provided that the geologically-induced chemical transformations they underwent are properly constrained.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 3:34:45 PM
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Julien Alleon, Sylvain Bernard, Nicolas Olivier, Christophe Thomazo, Johanna Marin-Carbonne. Inherited geochemical diversity of 3.4 Ga organic films from the Buck Reef Chert, South Africa. Communications Earth & Environment, Springer Nature, 2021, 2 (1), ⟨10.1038/s43247-020-00066-7⟩. ⟨hal-03097972⟩



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